Thursday, August 4, 2016

Oreo Cheesecake

Submitted by Marcia Van Camp
Inspired by:

24 Oreo Cookies
3 Tbl butter melted (I used unsalted)
3 (250g) packages of cream cheese softened (I use Philly)
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3 eggs

Special Instructions: 
1. I lined the bottom of the pan with parchment paper to avoid sticking.  If you don't know how to do this, there are a lot of great videos online.

2. My cheesecake had large cracks in it when it came out of the oven, and I look up ways to fix it. The best method was getting a spatula a little wet and smoothing over the cracks.  This could have been easily covered up with some decorations but I still would like to avoid it in the future.  I have seen a few things online about giving the cake a "water bath" basically cooking it with water surrounding it, so I may try that next time and see if it makes a difference.

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Crush 16 cookies which will become the crust.  The original directions say to do this in a bag but I found it very messy because a lot of the cookies stuck to the inside of the bag.  I had better luck with putting the cookies in a bowl and crushing them with a drinking glass. The method doesn't really matter, as long as they get crushed!

2. Place crushed cookies in bowl. Add butter; mix well (a small spoon works fine). Press firmly onto bottom of 9-inch springform pan.

3. Beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition. Chop or crush remaining 8 cookies. Stir the cookies into the batter. (I was supposed to keep some out for decorating the top, but I just put them all in the batter)

4. Bake 45 min. or until center is almost set. Cool and refrigerate 3 hours or overnight. After eating more than you probably should...Store leftover cheesecake in refrigerator.

Notes: It would also be fun to make mini cheesecakes with this recipe in cupcake pans but I think you would need more crushed Oreos for the crusts.  On the other hand, you could just buy the Oreo thins and split them up and use those without crushing anything.   I think I would drizzle some chocolate sauce over this next time or put some whole Oreos or even a few strawberries in the middle for decoration.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Irish Chocolate Potato Cake

Submitted by Marcia Van Camp

Inspired by This is a really cool website and has some other fun facts about the recipe.

You read the title correctly, there are really potatoes in this chocolate cake and it's a really, REALLY good cake, so take a chance and try it out!

No pictures for now because we ate it too fast!

  • 1/2 lb unsalted butter
  • 2 1/3 cups / 1 pound granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 9 rounded tablespoons grated chocolate (I used about 1 ½ bars of Ghirardelli’s milk chocolate baking bars)
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa (I used dark chocolate)
  • 1 cup cooked and mashed potato (cooled, do not add hot or warm)
  • 2 1/2 cups flour  
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 rounded teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup milk (I used whole milk)

Bundt pan Directions: (I didn’t use this method)
For preparing the pan you'll bake in:
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa
First prepare your cake pan. A tube pan like a Bundt pan works best for this recipe: but a springform cake pan works fine too.

If using a tube pan or Bundt pan, butter it well inside, paying particular attention to any flutings or crevices in the pan. Then mix the flour and cocoa together and use this mixture to flour the inside of the pan.

Springform pan Directions:
If using a springform pan, butter it too: then line it with a circle of buttered baking parchment for the bottom and a strip of buttered baking parchment for the sides.

This is the method I used because I couldn’t find my Bundt pan.  It was yummy, but I think the Bundt has a better shape for presentation.

Here is a video which might help:

Cake Directions:
·        Preheat the oven to 350° F. Then prepare the cake batter:

·         Grate the chocolate on a fine grater, or pulse in a food processor, or crush with a mortar and pestle, until reduced to small granules. The food processor is by far the easiest and fastest way: the grater and mortar-and-pestle are more labor intensive, but produce a slightly finer result. (I did it by hand and it took a while and because it was milk chocolate it was messy.  Next time I think I will try the food processor).

·         When this is done, sift the flour once by itself. Then sift it a second time with the cinnamon, baking powder and salt.

·         Cream the butter with the sugar until light and fluffy. (Mine wasn’t light and fluffy but it looked mixed!)

·         Separate the eggs. Add the yolks, one at a time, to the creamed mixture, beating well after each one.

·         Stir in the grated chocolate, ground almonds (optional) and cocoa. Add the potato and stir again.

·         Add the flour alternately with the milk, beating gently until smooth after each addition.

·         When this process is complete, whip the egg whites until stiff but not dry. Fold the whipped egg whites carefully into the cake mixture.

·         Spoon into the prepared springform pan or Bundt pan / tube pan: tap gently once on the counter to settle. Bake for 1 3/4 hours. Test for doneness with a toothpick or skewer at the end of this time: bake for another 15 minutes if needed.

·         Remove from the oven and allow to rest in the pan for at least twenty minutes before removing from the pan: then cool on a rack.

·         To finish, you could dust with confectioners' sugar but I chose to drizzle some chocolate over it.
I used the fudge sauce from this recipe, and I only needed about ½ but I put the rest in the freezer and it’s been nice to have it ready to go for other desserts.

1.       The original recipe has you sieve the potatoes, but I didn’t really know how and I didn’t have time to do it. The end result was that I had tiny, very tiny lumps in my cake, but I actually liked them because they made it seem like there were soft little nuts in there.  I am sure the cake is awesome with sieving BUT it’s not a deal breaker.

2.       The original recipe calls for 5 rounded Tbls ground almonds but I excluded them in case of nut allergies.  After tasting the cake, I think that almonds would be really good and I want to try them next time. 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Shortbread Cookies

11/19/2015 Submitted by Marcia Van Camp

2 cups butter, softened
1 cup of white sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 cups all-purpose flour

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Cream butter and sugar until fluffy, and then stir in the vanilla.
3. Add flour and salt and mix well
4. Roll out cookie dough and cut cookie
5. Bake for 10-12 min

Notes: This recipe was on the package for these cute cut-out cookies that I bought at World Market. I looked on their site but I don't think they have the recipe online.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Zesty Burger

11/16/2015 submitted by Casey Van Camp

1 pound hamburger
1 cup hidden valley avocado ranch (Ranch, 1/2 avocado blended until smooth)
2 tbs lemon juice
3 tbs paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp onion powder
1 medium onion chopped finely
1/2 tsp black pepper, garlic, celery salt
2 tsp sea salt

Add all ingredients and mix well into meat.  Form patties and cook them as desired. 

Top with Mushrooms, mexican cheese, avocado slices.  This would also be great on a whole wheat bagel

Friday, November 13, 2015

Apricot Chicken

11/12/2015 Submitted by Marcia Van Camp
Inspired by Laura Thayn

4 boneless chicken breasts - cut into stripes
1 cup / 8 oz of Russian salad dressing (I used Ken's Steakhouse)
1 cup / 8 oz apricot jam (I used Polaner)
1 package of dry onion soup mix (I used Lipton)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Place chicken in a 9x13 pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper
Mix remaining ingredients and then pour them over the chicken
Cook for one hour at 350 degrees

We had stuffing as a side and it was great because it soaked up the sauce. It would be great over rice as well. The original recipe calls for 8 chicken breasts but those would never fit in my pan.  Basically, you want to fill the pan with chicken, so that could mean 5 breasts or more if the bird is small.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Sweet is the Work

Submitted by Marcia Van Camp 11/09/2015

For Young Women in Excellence this year, our theme was Sweet is the Work.  Here are some pictures of the decorations which I am posting so if there are others out there who want to copy any of this, please do!  I can't take credit for the any of the creativity, my main contribution was frosting cupcakes.

Here is the original blog that we were inspired by and which has all these wonderful printable items!

Young Women in Excellence is a program we have every year for the girls in church ages 12 to 18 to celebrate all the hard work they have done.  We had talks given by girls on different values such as Integrity, Faith, Knowledge and so on. We also sang the hymn, Sweet is the Work and it was lovely.

I love these rosettes and the individual cotton candy treats.  We had small bags so that girls and their families could take candy home with them. 

The podium was covered which looked so great especially when the girls were up there speaking.  

Here is a view of the whole scene.  We ended up using about half of the gym so that the program would be more intimate.  The table in the back was set up so that girls could display items from their projects.  I also like the chevron banner hanging above because it's so colorful.  As with many old church buildings, we cannot lift the basketball hoop, so we added some pom poms to it. 

Welcome table and programs.  I absolutely LOVE those large lollipop decorations.  It makes me want to watch Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
Look at this yummy display!  I love the white chocolate fountain that has matching colors, so pretty!  We had strawberries, popcorn (yes, it comes in pink), and a yummy cherry bundt cake among other things.

For the chairs, plastic tablecloths were cut in strips so everything looked pretty but it was cheaper than tool, and you more options for colors. Since we were in the gym, the backboard was covered as well with those plastic tablecloths.

All of the Young Women values were on the wall along with pictures of each of the Young Women.

I made frosting for about 48 cupcakes and piped them and I doubled the below recipe but I ended up adding a little more shortening because it was too firm.    

Frosting (not doubled)
1 cup white shortening
1 lb. powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
8 teaspoons of water
Pink Wilton Paste - I used about 1/16 of a teaspoon 
**you might need to add a little more water or shortening to get the desired consistency

Friday, November 6, 2015

Funnel Cakes

Submitted by Marcia and Casey Van Camp

2 1/2 cups self-rising flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/3 cups milk
2 eggs, slightly beaten
Vegetable oil
Sifted powder sugar (optional)

1. Combine flour, sugar, milk, and eggs in a bowl, beating until smooth
2. Heat 1/4 inch oil to 375 degrees in a skillet
3. Cover bottom opening of a funnel with a finger
(funnel with a 3/8 inch opening works best)
4. Pour 1/4 cup batter into funnel and hold funnel over the skillet
5. Remove finger from the funnel's end to release batter into hot oil; move funnel in a slow, circular motion to form a spiral
6. Fry each funnel cake 1 minute or until edges are golden brown; turn and fry until golden
7. Drain on paper towels
8. Repeat with remaining batter
9. Serve warm and sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired
10. This makes about 1 dozen 5 inch cakes